Hi, Friends:

I’m happy to announce that I’ve just published my 13th book and first suspense novel, Twice a Broken Breath.

Although many of my novels have suspenseful elements in them, this is the first story that is officially in the suspense genre. I came close in my last book, All That Was Taken, a suspenseful love story. The setting in that book, a sleepy beach town on the California coast, couldn’t be more different from the unique, electric pace of New York City in Twice a Broken Breath.

While several characters in my previous novels ventured into “The Big Apple,” this is the first book set there.

Here’s the blurb:

She stole his world. He’s got twenty-four hours to get it back.

Although Liam Tallamore can’t remember the first fourteen years of his life, he’s built a happy home with his wife, Carly, and their two children in suburban New Jersey … until one Friday afternoon when everything changes.

While cashing his paycheck, he’s told his bank accounts have been emptied. Once at home, he learns Carly has left him for her first love—one he never knew existed. Most devastating of all, she’s taken their eight-year-old daughter, Rayelle, and is preparing to leave the country. As if things couldn’t get worse, he has no idea where their twenty-year-old son is or why he’s been unreachable for the past two months.

With total distrust in law enforcement and no clues to guide him, Liam hops on a train to New York City, Carly’s hometown. Through the next twenty-four hours, Liam goes on a wild, unforgiving, frantic search through rain-soaked Manhattan, experiencing the brightest and the darkest humanity has to offer. This is the story of a man who refuses to quit, determined to find “a needle in a haystack,” and who, in searching for the children he loves, doesn’t yet realize he’s searching for himself as well.

* * *

Twice a Broken Breath is both a plot-driven and a character-driven story. It was exciting to write a book that had so much happening in such a limited amount of time. Interestingly enough, during the time I wrote the bulk of the book, here in Los Angeles, we had the longest stretch of rain I can ever remember here. So, as I wrote one rainy scene after another, I thanked Mother Nature for accommodating me with such inspiring sound effects.

The writing of this book held so many surprises for me. Several minor characters ended up having a role in the story that I hadn’t foreseen. As I’m sure many writers can relate to, sometimes we are the last to know what secrets the characters hold or the importance they play in our story. The ending was the dead last thing I could have imagined. It’s special when stories are told to the storyteller.

Lastly, I’d like to share this book trailer, put together for me by the talented Kathleen Harryman. (If you’re interested, visit her website and see what she can do for you.) Thank you, Kathleen!

Twice a Broken Breath, like all of my books, is available in Kindle or paperback, and is free to Kindle Unlimited readers.

You can purchase the book here:

Thanks for stopping by.

Best wishes to all,


VENETIAN RHAPSODY COLLABORATION: Chat with Tonya Penrose and David Bazo





How did the idea for this collaboration come to be? What was the first seed for the idea?

TONYA: The answer to this question is a story within a story. Here’s the condensed version. I was already an ardent admirer of David’s music, and we were friends. I was sitting in my porch chair listening to one of his albums when this hauntingly beautiful song began playing. Suddenly, my creative mind engaged and flashed to an emotional scene where a young couple, Eduardo and Sofia, were riding in a gondola. It was their last night together in Venice before life pulled them apart. Their story captured my heart as it continued to unfold that afternoon. They wouldn’t leave me alone. The experience left me in a state of amazement and confusion. So I grabbed my laptop and let Eduardo and Sofia share their grand love and the “unexplainables” that followed them and latched onto me.

I emailed David the next day and told him what his song, “Venetian Reverie,” had unleashed. I asked if I might get his blessing to reference his piece in the novel. I’ll stop here and let David pick up what came next.

Yes. Tonya and I knew each other as authors. I had expressed interest in her novels and she in turn, in my compositions. She bought a CD of one of my soundtracks and with the comments she made about the work, I immediately understood that her sensibility reached far beyond where many writers are able to visualize a scene. She could go deeper and get into the content and nuances. Our friendship blossomed immediately.

One day she wrote to tell me that while listening to my work, she had discovered one of my oldest songs, a tune dating from 1998 called “Venetian Reverie,” and how that piece had impacted and impressed her to the point that she had been transported to Venice and was able to immerse herself in the scene she tells. She even told me the names of the characters! Imagine the impact and the impression it made on me.

The dream of any author is to convey emotions to his audience, and without a doubt, what Tonya was telling me is the dream of any creator. My work had not only pleased her, but it had also touched her. What’s more, it had inspired her, and in what a way!

She told me she had decided to write about that story and I thought it was a fantastic idea. At all times, she told me that she wanted to mention as a reference and genesis of the story the song that had inspired her. I felt profusely grateful.

But the more she went deeper into the story and told me that she wanted the music also to be a protagonist in the narration, that’s when I proposed to her the possibility of making a complete soundtrack for everything that happens in the novel. She loved the idea and it has been a project that has been a bi-directional synergy: The music inspired the story, and in turn, the story generated more music. A bi-directional inspiration that never ceased to surprise Tonya and me and that allowed us to reveal ourselves to each other in the creative process.

Did you know each other at all before you decided to work together?

TONYA: Yes, Twitter brought us together. It was David’s music that opened the door to our becoming fast friends.

What was it that told you that your respective talents would complement one another so well?

TONYA: We already felt mutual respect for each other’s work. This project was seeded in trust. Our excitement in taking this journey together never wavered. Doubt never once visited us. We felt compelled to work together and see where destiny took us.

DAVID: When Tonya says that this project is a story within a story, many people might think that what she is saying is nice hyperbole. It isn’t. It’s a wonderful reality, full of magic and charm.

We found common ground from the very beginning.

How long did the process take from beginning to end? Can you explain how it worked?

TONYA: Once we agreed to move forward and do this project, I wrote the novel in maybe 2-3 months. It came in fast, along with the idea to weave into the scenes Sofia and Eduardo listening to music. That idea was a big aha and fueled our enthusiasm and commitment.

David graciously allowed me free reign to choose the music genre playing. If you ask him now, he’ll probably say, “Tonya took too many liberties.” We have some hilarious stories about that part of the process. Hint: One scene has Eduardo’s brother playing a Spanish guitar. That should be a safe instrument for me to choose. Wouldn’t you think? Nope. David informed me that all the incredible guitars in his collection didn’t include a Spanish guitar. My response to him: “You’re Spanish. Of course, you play a Spanish guitar. You play every instrument out there, including a juice harp.” Without hesitation and with great patience, he explained it would be like him asking me to write a Western novel. Don’t tell him I told you, but he wins almost every discussion, and English isn’t even his first language. It’s very annoying. 😊

After I completed the story, I sent David the manuscript and the 22 scenes that would become the foundation for the album soundtrack. I wanted him to read the novel and make sure he approved it. Fortunately for me, he caught the story’s wave and went to work composing. I was thrilled to snag a publisher in record time who embraced the excitement of our initiative. (Thank you, The Wild Rose Press and my incredible editor, Lea Schizas.)

Naturally, David and I had countless communications. We used everything but smoke signals, and some days with my unreliable internet connection, we came close to employing them. One constant remained through it all: our devotion to Sofia and Eduardo and delivering their story in words and music.

DAVID: True. We had this evolving conversation every day; we were able to offer feedback about the story and the music all the time.

Of course, I was in my little studio in the city, and Tonya in her magnificent porch in front of the lake. I think that this is the reason why she is kind enough to lose some arguments on my behalf because perhaps she feels guilty knowing that I was locked in my dark bat cave surrounded by lights and monitors and she was so in touch with nature.

What was the easiest part, and what was the most difficult?

TONYA: For me, the easiest part was having the privilege of working with someone so brilliant and talented as David Bazo. Each moment on this journey has been pure joy and full of synchronicities we can’t explain. I laughed and cried all at the same time as I wrote the story. And when David would get me on a video chat to watch him play an unfolding melody, the box of tissues sat next to me. To watch his genius unfold in composing was something to behold—a gift I will treasure forever.

As for what proved difficult, it was trying to marry the book and the album’s release date. So much behind-the-scenes goes into a complicated project like this one. And then, once we’d completed the creative process together, waiting for the big launch day was hard. Our excitement held fast.

DAVID: About that, I would like to add something. What Tonya has achieved with Venetian Rhapsody is something truly incredible. Not only has she conceived a story that you can’t stop reading, in which you can immerse yourself without holding back, but on a creative level, she has made my work simple because the music writing process has flowed like never before thanks to how easy it has been for me to identify with these characters, places, moments, situations, and feelings.

What I thought was going to be the hardest part has turned out to be the easiest. I was afraid, before having read the novel completely, that I was still not going to be able to transcribe, illustrate. and capture everything that was in this story, all that complicity, that spirit, that luminosity, and that harmony full of nuances and sentiments expressed in the book.

If I have been successful in my mission, it is thanks to the fact that her writing is so good that it has made mine possible to be so too.

What came from this collaboration that surprised you?

TONYA: The entire collaborative process, from its origin to this moment, has been a journey like no other. And, like Eduardo and Sofia, overflowing with the unexplainable. David calls what we keep experiencing together “our magic.” He’s right.

What have you learned?

TONYA: What have I learned? That the impossible is possible.

DAVID: I can tell you that for me working with Tonya has been very educational. My work usually has a lot of melancholic, dramatic, and epic connotations, and with Tonya, besides delving into romantic content, I had to include a lot of humor, fun, and lightness in my work because that’s what her novels transpire and because that’s what the project needed.

This work also transpires all that, and it is thanks to her and her magnificent narrative.

Was the book finished when you got the music?

TONYA: Yes, the book needed to be completed for David to have the fluidity to compose and know where the story could and would take him.

DAVID: What is really special about Venetian Rhapsody is that that we both inspired each other throughout the process. My music gave rise to her novel, and then the book was the genesis for all this new music.

It was a dynamic project.

Tonya: How would you describe David’s music?

TONYA: David Bazo’s music does what no composer I’ve listened to achieves. He’s able to transcend to a place where only he resides to create melodies infused with emotion and passion, no matter the song’s theme. There’s a brilliance to every piece he composes and performs. There’s a complexity to his music that keeps me coming back for more. His artistic range is breathtaking and breath-giving. What an honor it’s been to work with him. Do ask him to chat about writing a tango for Sofia and Eduardo.

David, How would you describe Tonya’s storytelling/writing?

DAVID: When you read one of Tonya’s novels, you realize what a good writer she is, but it’s when you work with her that you really realize how much talent she has. I like to say that what she writes is very movie-like. Writing the score for her book, I felt like I was writing it for a feature film because her stories are very visual, full of action, comedy, mystery, and lots of rhythm.

I would say even more. Yes, I will! Working with her is very cinematic in a different way because she takes you creatively into situations that force you to push your abilities to the limit. She’s a little Hitchcock!

Oh, do I have to chat about the tango experience? Let’s see: To illustrate the novel, I had to go through musical styles that are foreign and complicated for me, such as giving life to a music style that had the instrumental requirements and gave life to the atmosphere and the spirit of what happens in the story.

I never had the experience of writing a tango piece, let alone dancing it. (Laughs)

It was an effort and a forced learning process because Tonya told me that this piece was important to the plot and “we had to have it” in the soundtrack.

And one way or another, we “had to have it”.

No mercy for me. (More laughs).

Well, we ended up having two tangos, to be exact. There is another version of it included in the 25 minutes piano suite recorded live as an epilogue to the Soundtrack.

Fortunately for me, Tonya’s story also required other genres in which I thrive, such as a Waltz, classical music, or music with Spanish connotations.

Do you have any plans for future projects?

TONYA: We’re anxious to see if we feel tapped again to do another collaboration. David keeps hounding me to write a Western romance so he can play his juice harp. I reminded him that he’s Spanish and not from cowboy country to draw on that experience. Let me leave you all with this story. The next day I got a private concert proving me wrong again about this talented guy’s abilities. I’m still not writing the dang Western. On second thought, I just envisioned this woman with true grit leading a cattle drive. Put that in your giddy-up, Bazo.

David: Well, we have yet to discuss that: I’ve already written a great script called “Duel at Dawn” for Tonya to develop. If I’ve been able to shape a tango, I’m sure Tonya can write a great western. I know she can! What I’m afraid of is that she doesn’t want me to add a soundtrack with whips, mouth harps, saloon and piano bar pieces, and 25 minutes of banjo concerto. Did I mention she is the team leader here?

This is inside the album cover:

A message from award-winning author Tonya Penrose. (pen name)

Our Story: David and Tonya

The genesis for this amazing project began with a song… Not just any song but Venetian Reverie’s theme song. Gazing at a lake from my writing chair, I discovered and listened to this piece of music written by David Bazo back in 1998. Immediately, I felt transported to Venice, where the characters, Sofia and Eduardo, waited to share their story. Never has a song inspired me to write a book, but then never has there been a song like David’s hauntingly beautiful melody.

David and I came to realize the song had a destiny to fulfill, and so did we. It’s become the main soundtrack theme of my novel, Venetian Rhapsody. David agreed to compose an album, opening the door for this special collaboration.

Each song from this album companions and illustrates the story. Let David’s gifted interpretation sweep you away with Sofia and Eduardo on their unforgettable romantic journey. Prepare yourself for a fully immersive experience like no other.

Their Story: Eduardo and Sofia

In a glancing moment, Eduardo Diaz and Sofia Martin experience their first chance encounter that alters how they see their world and ignites a grand love beyond compare. A romance where the barriers of time’s constraints fall away…leaving them with an unfolding mystery around their magical and powerful connection.


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Joy York grew up in Alabama but has spent much of her adult life in the Midwest, currently living with her husband, Terry, in Indiana with their goldendoodle, Bailey. Inspired by a family legacy of oral storytelling, she began creating stories and adventures for her son when he was growing up. With encouragement from family and friends, she began to write them down. Her first book, The Bloody Shoe Affair: A daring and thrilling adventure with the jailer’s daughter, a YA mystery, was published in 2015. The sequel, The Jailer’s Daughter is currently being edited. Genuine Deceit: A Suspense Novel, her second novel, was published on Amazon in May 2021. Protective Instincts, a mystery suspense, is coming soon.

Time to chat with Joy!

What is your latest book?

My latest book is Genuine Deceit: A Suspense Novel. When a young woman finds herself unknowingly accountable for the past sins of her family, she must unravel her decades old secrets to stay alive.

This is a standalone mystery/suspense/thriller with a bit of romance.

You say you’ve been inspired by a family legacy of oral storytelling. That sounds fascinating. Can you tell us more?

My inspiration for storytelling came from listening to my Mama Leavie tell fascinating stories to me and my cousins in the evenings while sitting on her porch in rural Alabama. She sat in a swing telling tales to her wide-eyed audience of grandchildren gathered at her feet, all of which hung on every word. The scarier the story, the better. Years later, I carried on that same tradition for my young son as we sat in his favorite place, the center landing of the staircase, and I spun my own tales of princes, flying houses, ogres, and gargoyles, always making my son the conquering hero.

How did you choose the genre you write in? Or did it choose you?

My main genre is mystery/suspense/thriller with the addition of a little romance to make the characters more relatable. I have always loved mysteries. Agatha Christie novels were my favorite growing up. I loved putting the clues together to try to solve the puzzle. The more surprises and twists and turns, the better. As an adult, I was inspired by John Sandford, Sue Grafton, Clive Cussler, James Lee Burke, Jonathan Kellerman, and many others.

What else have you written?

My first book was The Bloody Shoe Affair, a young adult southern mystery set in 1968. They say to write what you know and that is what I did. This young adult novel was inspired by my visits to north Alabama to spend time with my cousin who was the jailer’s daughter. My uncle was a deputy sheriff and managed the jail in a rural county. They lived in a big brownstone house that was connected to the 2-story jail by a check-in hall. My cousin, who was the same age as me, was a fearless prankster, and I was her shy, fearful opposite. My cousin would sneak into the jail to play checkers with the prisoners and take them candy and cigarettes. When I was visiting, she would drag me along with her. She insisted we play jailer in the empty cells. I was always stuck being the prisoner. My biggest fear was getting accidentally locked in. One day when she was taking me into the dark basement of the jail to see a woman trustee who lived down there, she pointed out the evidence room. She told me that inside the room was a pair of bloody shoes from a woman who was murdered. Apparently, the voice of the dead owner would call for her bloody shoes in the middle of the night. I was terrified. Years later, The Bloody Shoe Affair was born with a fictional location, story, and characters, all inspired by childhood visits.

What do you think some of the greatest misconceptions about indie authors are?

I think many people believe indie authors are all amateur writers who self-publish because they can’t find a publisher. Or that the self-published books are poor quality. Some of the best books I have read have been written by independent authors who chose, as I did, to publish independently. Most indie authors take their writing seriously and are just as professional and talented as traditionally published authors. I have my books professionally edited and my covers designed by graphic designers, as many independent authors do as well. There are also many professional graphic websites available that give indie authors the ability to learn to develop their own covers and marketing banners. Some writers simply don’t want to wait months to receive a response from a traditional publisher. They can set their own pace.

There are also many national and international writer and illustrator organizations that provide conferences, workshops, critique groups, networking, and resources for all authors, (traditional and indie) to learn, get feedback, and hone their craft.












Joy’s writing buddy, Bailey


What part of writing a novel do you enjoy the most? The least?

I love the creative process of writing. I am a pantser as opposed to a plotter. I don’t use an outline like a plotter. I sit down and write with a general idea and let the characters take me where they want to go. Not always where I expect. Editing is my least favorite.

After working for a very long time on a novel, many authors get to a point where they lose their objectivity and feel unable to judge their own work. Has this ever happened to you? If so, what have you done about it?

This happened with my sequel to my young adult mystery. I worked on it for two years. It was too long for a young adult novel. I knew parts were dragging, but I wasn’t sure how to fix it. I reread and edited it so many times I totally lost perspective. I put it aside to work on other projects. After three years, I recently took a crack at it because I really love the story. I decided to throw away the first five chapters, and it was like a weight was lifted. Sometimes you need to step away.

Please, tell us your experiences with social media. What are your favorite and least favorite parts?

Social media is critical to marketing. When I self-published my first book, I only had a Facebook account. I used a professional marketing company to launch. I learned a lot, but most of my sales were from my own marketing. Mostly trial and error. Twitter allows you to connect with people all over the world. I soon learned that most authors are very supportive. I set up public accounts on Facebook and Instagram. I also use Facebook Boost to advertise my posts. You can set your budget and it is easy to use. It has been very successful for me. You can also target specific geographical regions, interests, and demographics. I also use my LinkedIn account. I joined Canva Pro and learned to make banners. I am also a Pro member of Allauthor. Online book clubs are also very helpful in marketing. I am still just scratching the surface of the marketing opportunities. Although I have a blog set up, I have not used it yet. I am taking my time to figure out how to make it unique.

What do you like best about the books you read? What do you like least?

I like books that grab my attention in the first chapter. If I’m reading a mystery and can figure out who the killer is within the first few chapters, it’s hard for me to finish the book unless they have some good subplots or a stellar writing style. I love strong female characters. Unfortunately, some writers feel an independent, successful woman must be abrasive, bossy, and condescending. Like they have something to prove. I believe that is a convenient stereotype. Most strong, independent women are not only driven, but supportive, nurturing, and encouraging to their partners.

Having your work out there to be judged by strangers is often daunting for writers. Do you have any tips on handling reviews?

It can be hurtful to receive a bad review. Not everyone enjoys the same styles and genres. Even best-selling authors do not always get 5’s. Some reviewers will say it’s their best book, while others say it’s their worst. If a review offers suggestions, I read them and see what I can learn from their comments. If other reviewers offer the same comments or suggestions, I need to take it seriously and try to improve on my next book. If not, I let it go. Sometimes people trash the review because the book isn’t what they expected. Those are things I ignore. It’s a balance, but you can never let it stop you from writing. We all become better authors as we grow.

Have you received reactions/feedback to your work that has surprised you? In what way?

I have gotten a lot of feedback about my main characters, Reagan and Aiden, in Genuine Deceit. Many readers really love the characters and are suggesting a series. I hadn’t considered it until now. Maybe they have more adventures to share.

What was the best gift you ever received?

The birth of my beautiful twin grandsons. They were born two months premature a few months before the pandemic shutdown. They are now three years old and thriving. My daughter-in-law’s mother and I have bonded while helping with the boys over the years. She is now like a sister friend. I am blessed on all accounts.

If you had a million dollars to give to charity, how would you allot the funds?

Paid quality education, meals, and childcare for pre-k through grade 12 for underprivileged children in inner cities and rural areas so they will have a strong and encouraging foundation to be successful in their adult lives. Preferable Montessori.

What makes you angry?

Prejudice. Intolerance. Any form of abuse or harassment. Broken trust.

Do you have any guilty pleasures?

Dark chocolate and fried okra. Not necessarily together! The second comes from my southern heritage. Maybe throw in a little country fried steak with homemade gravy.

What are three things you think we can all do to make this world a better place?

Be kind. Be generous. Listen.


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Beth Haslam grew up on a farm estate in Wales and was mostly seen messing around with her beloved animals or out sailing on the treacherous Menai Strait.

When she and her husband, Jack, bought a second home in France, their lives changed forever. Computers and mobile phones swapped places with understanding French customs and wrestling with the local dialect.

These days, Beth is occupied as never before, raising and saving animals, writing, and embracing life in their corner of rural France. And she loves it!

Time to chat with Beth!

Welcome, Beth! I just finished reading your new book, Fat Dogs and Welsh Estates: Series Prequel. I loved it! Congratulations!

One of the first things that came to my mind as I read was how much work you had to have put into such an undertaking. Such a labor of love. I’m curious, how much research, consulting with others, and thinking did you have to do before you began the actual writing? How long did the entire process take?

Hello Lisette, thanks so much for inviting me to chat with you here at your Writers’ Chateau. With such an evocative title, I feel wonderfully at home!

You ask such a pertinent question about Fat Dogs and Welsh Estates. On several occasions, I have been asked to write about my childhood. I initially rejected the idea. Ironically, for someone who writes memoirs, I couldn’t imagine why anyone would be remotely interested in a book focused on my upbringing. Added to this, writing solely about me makes my toes curl. Finally, a workable solution popped into my head.

The book needed lots of fun tales about my youth, but there was more. I decided to try and convey the extraordinary beauty of my rugged, enchanting homeland. I wanted to describe what it means to be Welsh, our mannerisms and our passions. To achieve this with a level of integrity needed research. Lots of research.

I sought advice from castle custodians, Welsh historians, the world’s leading authority on Mabinogion (a collection of ancient Welsh myths), sailing experts, professional Welsh chefs and more. Their advice was freely offered and unbelievably helpful. Totally absorbed, I wrote sections as I learnt, adding new knowledge and depth to my experiences. Eventually, after more than a year, the book was written.


I’ve read the first book in your Fat Dogs and French Estates series. (And I want to read them all!) How did writing a memoir of your childhood compare, in addition to going back much further in time to gather the information, with the writing of your wonderful series?

Thank you for being so kind about my French books. Writing about my childhood was very different. Intensely personal. At the outset, I worried about not remembering situations accurately. Fortunately, once I started reflecting on the key moments in my young life, detailed anecdotes began tumbling out of my brain with vivid clarity.

It was fascinating to learn about your childhood in Wales. I think the book has great historical value as well as being delightfully entertaining. What would you most like readers to learn about your native country?

I’m thrilled that you found the historical elements interesting. An early revelation for me was finding out that many people, particularly those outside the UK, thought Wales was a region of England. They assumed it was a chunk of land filled with stinky sheep, crumbly castles, and quaint people speaking a weird language. A bit Hobbity. I was determined to set that right.

I have tried to show readers that whilst it may be little, Wales is a multi-faceted country. From the craggy mountains to endless moors, sweeping valleys and patchwork fields, and the ocean that bathes our western shores, the topography is exceptional. I have introduced readers to our culture, language, song and history. And through anecdotes, I have tried to express the depth of Welsh emotions that course through our veins.

Throughout my writing journey, the advice of Welsh leaders in their fields added value to the historical content, which often extended beyond the remit of my book. Because of this, I decided to include a Reference section.

Everyone has different tastes, so the Reference section enables readers to cherry-pick, discovering more about a particular subject they found interesting. Although it isn’t the entire bibliography, several people have told me how much they’re enjoying following the links, so I’m glad I went ahead.

One thing I loved was reading about all of the different professions you imagined yourself doing as a child. You write so beautifully. Was writing ever a consideration?

Ah, yes, I had several convictions about my ideal vocation. As you’ll have noticed, I became a devoted animal lover at an early age, so most of my ‘brilliant’ career ideas revolved around creatures, great and small.

As for becoming an author, I loved writing stories, but at that stage, I was too much of a tomboy to consider life with a pen.

What was the most difficult part of writing this book? The easiest?

Ooh, another great question. It was probably accuracy. Once I’d decided to produce a piece with snippets of social history, I worked endlessly to provide precise information. As you’ll guess, it was often highly challenging as opinions differed on the same event. This was when I became hopelessly engrossed in my research, but I got there in the end.

Ironically, the easiest bits were recounting anecdotes about our family animals, dismal sailing efforts (I was a remarkably untalented sailor), boarding school, and living in a castle full of ghosts, all of which are etched on my brain.

When did you first decide to take your life adventures in France and write about them? Do you take notes now as you move through life?

The decision was made by accident. Jack, my husband, and I were sitting one evening in our local French auberge. Covered in cement dust as usual, it was the end of yet another tough day. We’d been working our socks off on our new home renovations whilst trying to calm Jean-Luc, our nutty artisan decorator.

Jean-Luc is neurotic. He had abruptly downed tools and refused to work with the tiler. Why? Nobody knew. It was a regular occurrence. Reflecting on this latest tantrum, Jack took a sip of his gin and tonic and sighed. “The things that have happened to us with this bloody project are so unbelievable,” he said, “you should write a book about it.” So I did.

Nowadays, I have a notebook that sits on my desk. If an event occurs that I think readers might enjoy, I’ll write a couple of bullet points and the date. I’ll take a selection to develop into written material for a future book.

What advice would you offer to someone who wants to write a memoir?

Gosh, that’s tricky. I certainly don’t feel qualified to give expert advice. Here’s what I can offer.

Be brave, follow your heart and persevere. Don’t get hung up on detail such as grammar. That can be fixed. Focus on producing the story in your words. Develop broad shoulders but never lose your grounding. Listen to, and learn from constructive comments, and never give up hope. After all, JK Rowling’s Harry Potter manuscript was rejected twelve times.

Do you know what your next book will be?

Actually, yes, I do. Whilst I’ve been in Wales (at least in my head) for the past 14 months, stories here in France have been stacking up. Tales about our deliciously nutty neighbours, trips to wondrous places and always animals. They will become the foundations for Fat Dogs and French Estates Part VI. I’ll start chapter planning next month.

Is your recent book part of a series?

Yes. Fat Dogs and Welsh Estates is the prequel to my Fat Dogs and French Estates books.

Have you ever collaborated with another writer on a project? If so, what insights about the process can you share with us?

I have. A friend and I are crazy cat ladies who habitually take in abandoned cats. Instead of chatting inanely about our kitties daily, we decided to use our skills to help cats in need. Zoe is an editor, and I write, which turned out to be a great collaboration combo.

We appealed to cat slaves worldwide to share their stories and produced an anthology about felines. Zoe and I added our own. The contributed narratives were gems and most needed tweaking. We worked together, though Zoe had the final say on editing. Wise decision. I’m hopeless with grammar.

Entitled, Completely Cats – Stories with Cattitude, we’re proud of our book. Proceeds from each sale go to International Cat Care, a fantastic cat charity. We run active pages on Facebook and Twitter, spreading the word about helping cats in need and the fabulous work of cat charities worldwide.

Do you allow others to read your work in progress, or do you keep it a secret until you’ve finished your first draft? Can you elaborate?

I have a couple of long-suffering friends who allow me to inflict early ideas on them. It might be a paragraph, a particular dialogue, a description, or a passage that doesn’t seem right. They will immediately tell me to ditch it or offer helpful suggestions.

Are you a fast typist? Does your typing speed (or lack of it) affect your writing?

Yes, I’m a reasonably poor touch-typist. Ridiculously picky though it sounds, I prefer using a full-size keyboard. I find the compact tablet versions with squashed-together keys distracting. They slow me down, threatening to steal the words dancing around in my head.

If I’m ‘in the zone’ with a particular thought/scene, I’ll fly over my desktop computer keyboard, bashing out my story as quickly as possible. There will be lots of errors, but it’s there. That literary kernel has been safely recorded.

We all know the old saying; you can’t judge a book by its cover. This is true. However, how much importance do you place on your book cover design?

Thank you. Answering this question allows me to give a shout to my illustrator, the stupendously talented Maggie Raynor.

Maggie is a trained Royal Academy of Arts (London) artist and extraordinarily gifted. I have been lucky to work with her on all my Fat Dogs books. Maggie’s interpretations are spot on, needing very few alterations.

I take great care over the design of my book covers and chapter head illustrations. I will inflict my first scruffy draft on Maggie, along with ideas of what I think will work and then leave her to it.

Actually, Maggie had such fun creating baby dragons for my latest book I had to stop her. They were so good I decided to make the chapter head illustrations bigger to try and enhance readers’ overall enjoyment. Many lovely comments about them have been forthcoming, so it was the right decision. Maggie’s happy, too!

How would you define your style of writing?

I’m a descriptive storyteller. I try hard to create mental pictures in the reader’s mind so they can visualise each scene. My style is lighthearted, so there’s lots of humour, but since I share tales from life, there are serious points, and sadness, too. My ambition with every book is for readers to smile, laugh, perhaps shed a tear and sense drama, just as I did when experiencing each of the scenes described.

What’s your favorite comfort food? Least favorite food?

I’d be beheaded if any of my French friends read this! I confess that my favourite comfort food is chilli con carne. It’s piquant, easy to make, and seriously yummy.

As for my least favourite? That’s easy. Tripe and onions. Slippery, bobbly – it’s seriously dreadful stuff.

What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?

Gosh, this is a tricky question. Probably Hercules, my little ginger ninja, an abandoned kitten. You met him in my Welsh tales.

What are the most important traits you look for in a friend?

Loyalty, sense of humour, stickability – through thick and thin, and empathy.  And since we’re on the subject of friendship, thank you so much for these super, considered questions, Lisette. I have loved chatting with you here.

Thanks so very much, Beth! It’s been an honor for me to have you at my chateau. And lastly, I want to say that in putting this interview together, I noticed the number plate on the car in the French Estates series: OMG 123! Very funny and as delightful as all of your books.


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Fat Dogs and Welsh Estates Flyer


Sally Cronin is the author of sixteen books including her memoir Size Matters: Especially when you weigh 330lb first published in 2001. This has been followed by another fifteen books both fiction and non-fiction including multi-genre collections of short stories and poetry.

As an author she understands how important it is to have support in marketing books and offers a number of FREE promotional opportunities on her blog and across her social media. Her podcast shares book reviews, poetry and short stories.

After leading a nomadic existence exploring the world, she now lives with her husband on the coast of Southern Ireland enjoying the seasonal fluctuations in the temperature of the rain.

Thank you very much, Lisette, for inviting me to join you in the Writer’s Chateau today…

(It is my great pleasure, Sally! It’s been my wish to have you as a guest for quite some time.)

Your Smorgasbord Blog Magazine is one of the best online magazines I’ve seen. It’s very special. Can you tell us how it began? Feel free to brag about your invaluable contributors.

Thank you very much. I am delighted you enjoy the blog and its format it has evolved over the last 11 years and it is something I love putting together.

The concept actually began back in 2004 when I was co-presenting some shows on English speaking radio in Spain. I had been a nutritional consultant since the late 90s and was delighted to be asked to present health segments on the morning show. After a few weeks, listeners began emailing with questions, so I thought I would start a monthly newsletter on nutrition, food, recipes, health issues etc. This was emailed out for two years on subscription and evolved to include other areas including humour. I also presented the short story competitions on the station, recording the stories, and this in part fueled my own love of writing them.

Whilst looking after my mother in the UK from 2008 I carried on presenting on radio on the local station including interviewing authors on my Sunday Show and doing a health show on Thursdays. When I turned to blogging in 2012 I therefore had all the ingredients needed to bring Smorgasbord Blog Magazine to life featuring health, nutrition, food, music, short stories, author interviews and book promotion and humour.  Of course it didn’t take off immediately but I built up a presence on social media platforms and that is how I connected with the wonderful people who now contribute as part of the team on the magazine and have become great friends too.

One of these was William Price King on Twitter.  I was putting together a series of interviews with creative artists across art, music and writing. It took a chance and contacted William and asked if he would be a guest and thankfully he agreed. He is an amazing classical and jazz singer and composer and over the last nine years he has brought an incredible range of music to the blog. In the last two years we have been co-presenting the Breakfast Show with hits from the 40s through to the 2000s and this year we are showcasing the Big Band Era and the dance crazes from the 20s through to the 50s.

Debby Gies who writes as D.G. Kaye,  connected with me back in 2015 and participated in a women’s health series with an article on heart health and then in a number of interviews.  Debby loves travelling and in 2017 began a column taking us on cruises and visits to popular destinations around the world, followed by her Relationship Column and now Spiritual Awareness. An amazing author Debby writes non-fiction and memoirs as well as terrific blog posts and also does an excellent job in foraging for funnies to share in our laughter posts every week.

Carol Taylor lives in Thailand and ran a restaurant there. She participated in one of the guest post series in 2016 with an article about her rescue dog and the organization in Thailand who work hard to take dogs off the street and re-home them. Once we got chatting about our shared passion for food and healthy eating, I asked Carol is she would like to write a food column and the rest is history. Passionate about the environment Carol created the Green Kitchen column for the blog in 2021. Currently we are re-running her information packed A-Z of Culinary terms and foods with recipes that are guaranteed to prevent malnutrition. We co-wrote the series Cook from Scratch which focused on the individual vitamins and minerals needed to be healthy and I am looking forward to showcasing her cookbook which she has promised us soon.

Finally but certainly not least, two authors with a great sense of humour also contribute to our funnies each month. Daniel (Danny Kemp) shares wonderful memes and jokes on his Facebook Page and lets me wander in from time to time to pinch and share. Malcolm Allen lives in Australia and he kindly sends us an email each month with his take on life and is happy for me to share on the blog.

I’ve read two of your books, Sally. They were wonderful. I love the creativity in your poetry and short stories. You capture so many nuances of nature and put them on center stage. Is nature your favorite topic? What else demands your attention?

Thanks for the boost for the books, Lisette. I feel most at home when I am in the natural environment. I used to clamber up and down mountains and trails wherever we lived and on holidays but these days my knees have a mind of their own. I am restricted to walks by the sea and to taking care of the flowers and the birds in the garden. Over the last six years in our home here in Ireland I have found myself the proprietor of the Birdseed Café and Spa with a regular clientele of sparrows, starlings, tits, doves, crows and jackdaws. They get a running buffet of seed, nuts, suet, fats and fruit each day and they have an ‘all you can eat’ approach which means we are fully booked every day. They bring me great pleasure and are worth every penny, particularly during the lockdown when they were not restricted in their visits and entertained every day.

My other focus is people, and you can’t get to 70 years old without a few life experiences, good and bad, and sometimes terrible, without becoming a student of human nature. These days of course, most of my interactions are online, but that is interesting in many ways. Not only do you see the normal human behavior at play, but also some that are normally kept hidden when face to face with others. Plenty of fodder for any writer, and whilst I am careful about who I follow as I have had a few less than pleasant experiences over the last twelve years, I love following people who have quirky approach to life… they are a great source of characters for stories.

Is there something you’d like to write that you haven’t written yet?

I do enjoy crime thrillers both books and movies and television dramas and in our house it is a race to identify ‘who dunnit’. I do have a work in progress that might turn out to be that genre, it is progressing along that path and we shall just have to see how it goes.

You’re known (and so appreciated) as an amazing and supportive friend to many authors and other creatives. You do an incredible amount of work to highlight the work of others. What drives you?

When I wrote my first book Size Matters about my 150lb weight loss and a nutritional guide to losing weight in 1998, I approached an agent and we worked together to edit the book and he then sent out to seven publishers. They all came back with a rejection but it wasn’t for the book which they thought was good. It was because I was in my mid-forties, probably with only the one book, no public presence and probably not newsworthy. So I self-published with a Canadian POD company and set about marketing it. My background in operations which included marketing, sales and customer services was useful as I was accustomed to preparing promotional material and I sent out press releases locally where we lived in Ireland to the national papers and also to UK women’s magazines. It did pretty well and I got quite a bit of publicity. It was a time when obesity was not the norm it is today and stories of major weight loss made news.

When we moved to Spain I worked with the Canadian company acquiring more authors for them and as my husband formatted my books, he began to format for other authors too. I began working on English speaking radio which was a great place to promote my own books and I also began helping the authors with their physical launches.

It was tough back then when the big mainstream publishes were ruling the roost and being self-published implied that your book was not worth the paper it was written on. That drove me to find ways to promote my books but also other indie authors who needed a platform. I know that people are wary of the internet and some are reluctant to open themselves up to the world, but in fact it is the best thing that ever happened as far as authors are concerned.

It does, however, take work to build a presence and to understand that marketing your books is part of being an author. Some still don’t get it and think that readers are just going to rush over to Amazon to buy their books whilst they sit on the sidelines and watch the show.  It simply does not work that way, and there are plenty of con artists out there ready to part authors from their money with promises they cannot keep.

I know the readership of my own books is within the writing community online, and it is important to be an active member.  Supporting other authors and their books is part of that focus, and I get a great deal of pleasure in helping boost the interest in their work.

I love the way you write poetry in triangular shapes. It’s so pretty and clever. Did you always write this way? Why is this special to you?

There are a number of forms that occur when using syllabic poetry and it does often reinforce the message in the poem. A triangle or a reversed triangle can add an emphasis to the words either bringing to a point by ending on one word, or bringing the whole poem to a satisfying ending with the longest line.  Other forms mirror the subject of the poem…for example a Butterfly Cinquain such as this one I wrote recently.


camouflaged to conceal
their tempting plump juvenile forms
to morph into silken cocoons
for metamorphosis
as a bewinged

Please, tell us about your latest book.

My latest book is Variety is the Spice of Life : A Blend of Poetry and Prose.

In the first part, I share my most recent poetry about life, love, relationships with a special section on my garden and its inhabitants. In the second half of the book, there are eight short stories all with a different theme, with touches of revenge, paranormal, mystery, and love.

You’ve written a lot of books. Do you have a favorite?

Since it is partly auto-biographical, I would say Just An Odd Job Girl is one I that is special to me. I have certainly had a varied career, and it was fun to take the jobs and my experiences and turn it into a novel. I am always delighted when I see a review for the book even though I wrote it in 2002, and I love the comments it receives when I have serialized on the blog.

Do you have any advice for first-time authors?

I have worked with many first time authors, and most get in touch when their book is already published and they are just thinking about how to promote it. I believe very strongly that it is important to be preparing for the marketing of a first book almost before you begin writing it.

I know that people can be dismissive of blogging and social media and say they don’t have time for it, but without an online presence how do they expect their book to be noticed. Amazon is just a book store and it doesn’t do any marketing except when you are more established and your book has sold some copies.

I appreciate that it takes time to gain followers on social media and connect with like-minded followers who might read your book or at least share to their own connections, but it is worth the effort.

I have been running my series on PR for authors and book marketing on my blog through January 2023, but I have a pdf of the series for anyone who would like a copy. It goes into detail on how to set up an online presence including Amazon, Goodreads, and social media and it is available by emailing me on

Do you have any advice to a new author if they asked you whether to pursue the traditional route to publishing or to start out as an independent writer?

There is still a lingering disdain for indie publishing that annoys me intensely since the work involved in the writing of a book through to it landing on the bookshelf is complex and time consuming. I know that there are some books around that might not be as good as they should be but with grammar aids, editing services and technology advances books are of a higher standard. I have certainly paid good money for mainstream published books that I have not finished.

I know some authors who have gone the mainstream route to publishing and some do very well and others felt their control of the process including the editing of their books has been compromised. Many have now taken back the copyright for their books and are Indie and happy to be so.

Additionally today, unless you are considered to be the next Lee Child or Stephen King, you can forget about a massive advance and kiss goodbye to a mega marketing campaign.  Many end up doing the same book promotions as an indie author.

By all means if you are a new author, do your research. I always have a current copy of Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook which lists agents, publishers and also useful articles on presenting your manuscript. You need to avoid a shotgun approach to sending out your work and narrow down specific agents and publishers who work with your genre or area of expertise. For example children’s books or young adult, memoirs, and romance, and then check out their requirements for a submission and follow it to the letter.

If you face rejection, then keep going, but don’t dismiss the idea of self-publishing and if you have been building your brand along the way you will already be set up and ready to go it alone with the help of the writing community.

Where do you live now? If you had to move to another city/state/country, where might that be?

We live on the east coast of Ireland in County Wexford about half a mile from the sea. We have been living here for nearly seven years after having a home in Madrid for seventeen years.  It did take me a while to acclimatize after enjoying 300 days of sunshine and 60 days of rain or snow, to the complete opposite of 300 days of rain and 60 days of sunshine!  Well it feels like that anyway, although the warmth of the people around us makes up for it.  We are about to move again this year to a smaller house, but it will be here in Ireland further down the coast. Ireland is one of the most economically stable countries in the EU and for pensioners it offers excellent benefits.

Trains, planes, automobiles, or boats?

We used to do all of the above and I still enjoy a road trip from time to time. We have swapped planes for ferries whenever possible and to be honest it would take an emergency to get me into an airport and on a plane today. We would still like to do the Rockies by train so perhaps with enough margaritas I might be persuaded to fly again, but it would take quite a few.

What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?

I definitely count being taught to read and write as up there as the best gifts I have received. Without that I would never enjoyed all the books I have read, been able to enjoy a wonderful varied career, indulged in my passion for writing and probably never met my husband. After all, without being able to read and write, I would never have been assistant manager in the hotel in Wales he decided to stay in on business and ask me out on a date.

Thank you very much, Lisette, for allowing me to share my thoughts and I would love to respond to any comments and questions from your readers.


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My new book, All That Was Taken, is my twelfth book. Looking back on all of my novels, I had a very different reason to write each one. Some were rational (or irrational) decisions, and others were just tiny seeds of inspiration that were calling out to be planted so they could grow.

One of the most common questions authors are asked is, “Where do you get your ideas?” Of course, there are always the people who say things like, “I’ve got a great story idea for you. OMG, you should write about my crazy family!” To which I try to explain, in the nicest way, that it may be a great story for them to write (and I encourage them to do so), but one must write what one feels passionate about. Inspiration is about so much more than a “good story,” and it’s unique to every writer. It’s about feeling a connection that’s worth thinking about, writing about, and rewriting for as long as it takes. If I’m going to write about a crazy family, it’s going to be one that I invent, as I don’t tend to write autobiographical novels.

I really struggled with several possibilities for number twelve. Sometimes, we’re overwhelmed with ideas and don’t know which one to run with, but at other times, it’s not as easy. An author can choose any idea, but finding that passion isn’t always something that comes pre-packaged with a great story line.

So, as I was struggling, I came upon a folder of art that I’d tucked away for inspiration. There was a painting of a man wearing a long black coat briskly walking at night in the fog, at the water’s edge of the ocean. And that was all I needed. Who was he? Where was he going? What was his life like? Was he running from something? Or going toward something? Perhaps both?

I thought about him for quite a while; then I thought about other stories that were vying for contention. But this man kept coming back to me, asking me to get to know him. Over time, I shared my various ideas with my friend Lisa. Finally, I asked her, “Which one should I write?” And without hesitation, she said, “The man on the beach.”

I gave him a dog, and I was off to the races.

I probably spent more time developing this novel than any previous one I’ve written. Before I could write the first word, I had to know everything I could about him. Why had he chosen to live a life of solitude? What happened in his past?

It took me over a month to get to know him as well as I can get to know any character before I begin to write them.

Once I began writing, the first draft came to me within a few months, but it wasn’t until countless rewrites, a beta reader, and two editors that I felt as ready as I’ll ever feel to publish this book. As a side note, this character turned out to be someone I’d love to know in the real world, and his nemesis one I wouldn’t want to know in any world.

Below is a blurb for the book:

All That Was Taken is a contemporary fiction novel that delves deeply into love, loss, and healing but comes with a suspenseful twist.

For eight years, John Hennessey has lived in near-solitude on Catalina Island. He keeps his world small, for every precious thing in his life has been taken from him. But when his peaceful existence is threatened, he buys a cottage farther up the California coast in the sleepy town of Teal Beach.

There he meets Sunny Harrison, owner of the Teal Beach Sundial Inn where he stays until his cottage is ready for move in. The connection between them is magical, though both are surviving painful pasts and are afraid to trust … especially as an undercurrent of darkness dwells in their midst.

In no time at all, their quiet lives explode. Sunny receives ominous phone calls while John grapples with his own unsettling communications. Their bond strengthens as dangerous enemies threaten.

New guests at the hotel appear to have ulterior motives, and with each passing day, more and more feels eerily out of place. As tensions escalate and the enemy comes into focus, John and Sunny know they face grave danger from people with no conscience. Yet, they have no idea what diabolical plans lie in wait for them.

* * * *

You can find the book on Amazon
. This book, as all of my books, are available in Kindle, paperback, and free to read on Kindle Unlimited.

Thanks so much for reading.

Best wishes to all,





As an author, Tonya’s moved by the effect humor and narratives have on readers. That observation illuminates why her stories often convey messages inviting personal exploration. She is enthusiastic about crafting stories with beguiling characters, adding dashes of snappy humor, and engaging dialogue that leaves her fingerprint on each page.

Her fiction and non-fiction stories are published in numerous anthologies, e-magazines, local press, and literary magazines. She’s a member of Poets and Writers. Tonya Penrose is her fiction pen name.

Time to chat with Tonya!

What is your latest book?

Welcome to Charm. It’s the first in a planned series with World Castle Publishing. It’s a romp with a twist that released on May 2.  I invite your audience to fall in love with the characters living in the beguiling mountain town of Charm. It’s not on any map which character Abby Drake discovers. Did that hook you? I’m ready to move there, if I could just find it and so are my editors.

You’ve written a lot of books. Do you have a favorite?

My books are like children. You’re not supposed to have a favorite, but Welcome to Charm and Old Mountain Cassie: The Three Lessons are tied. They’re more than enjoyable and unique books. They gift the reader with something personal…meaningful insights on how to live from a high-minded place and chase the joy.

Do you write under a pen name? If so, can you tell us why?

I write under the pen name Tonya Penrose. I figured if my first novel was a one-star clunker, I’d drop my head and come up with a new pen name and try again. Fortunately, Cassie and my other books have found a lotta love, so Tonya Penrose lives on.

How did you choose the genre you write in? Or did it choose you?

My way of writing is atypical. I don’t seem to possess a drop of loyalty to any one genre. My stories flirt around with multi-genres. A reader will find romance, mystery, humor, inspiration, magical realism, well you get the idea. Typically, one genre will dominate the novel and the others tag along adding color and zest.

Do your books begin with ideas for characters or plots? Something else?

This great question gives me the chance to explain how the genesis for a novel comes calling. When I’m untethered from my day-to-day doings, ideas are set free. My characters love to appear while I’m taking a walk. They’ll drop me into a scene to observe. I hear and see what’s unfolding. I know. It’s strange, but it’s how every story short or long has come. The Muses know me well and always set the hook fast.

For example, in A Secret Gift, Halley Bowen has been summoned to an attorney’s office learning she has an anonymous benefactor offering her the chance to live her dream life, but there’s a hitch. In a specified time, she must experience and find grand love in order to write her romance novel with authenticity.

Once I’m engaged, the characters start chattering away at me. I sit down with a blank screen staring at me and take dictation. I never outline, plot, or know the ending.

Here’s something my cozy publisher shakes her head over. Whenever I announce I’m writing the next book for the Shell Isle Mystery Series, my publisher asks for a hint about Page and Betsy’s next adventure. I always tell her I haven’t a clue, (don’t pardon the pun) but my two sleuths are hollering for me to get my quill moving. She can’t grasp how I write a mystery and don’t plot the clues, outline the story, know the suspects, and who did the deed. I don’t know whodunit until the end. And, between us, in all three books, I guessed wrong. Yep. Totally missed it. But hey, the not knowing keeps me showing up in my writing chair each day.

Once in a while, after finishing a book, I care so much about the characters that I write a sequel for them in my head.

Do you ever know what happens to your characters after the book ends?

I always know. It’s funny because I feel like I can tap into them anytime and see what they’re up to. For the last few months, Old Mountain Cassie visits me asking when I’m writing her next book because she’s bustin’ to teach more secrets on how to ‘live life amazing.’ She’s also begging for us to do a workbook. So, a resounding yes, my characters live on and on.

How many unwritten books are in your head? How do you decide which ones come to life now and which ones stay on the back burner?

My unwritten books are like planes circling an airport waiting to be cleared to land. They’re always up there, and more show up if I dare acknowledge them. I’m guessing 5 or 6 are flashing landing lights at me. Old Mountain Cassie, A Secret Gift, Shell Isle Mystery Series, and Charm are all written as series, so it’s good those planes are flying around. I don’t make the decision which novel is next. It’s who shows up and talks the loudest.

Do you often write characters you wish you were friends with in real life?

Absolutely. If I don’t feel a strong like quotient to my characters, I won’t tell their story. I adore them all except my murder suspects. They’re a dodgy lot that I’d steer a wide berth from saying hello. I weave a lot of humor dialogue into all of my stories, which endears the characters even more.

How often do your characters surprise you by doing or saying something totally unexpected?

Every single day I’m in my writing chair. I never know what’s coming out of their mouths next. And that’s fine by me.

Were you “born to write,” or did you discover your passion for writing later in life?

I wrote and illustrated my first book when I was around six years old. Judging by my parent’s expressions, as they tried to figure out my drawings, I knew words had better be my jam.

Do you dread writing a synopsis for your novel as much as most writers do? Do you think writing a synopsis is inherently evil? Why??

A synopsis is spawned from the devil. No one with a beating heart hates writing them more than me. I can never get a synopsis to capture the essence of my story or its soul. And please don’t give me license to carry on about how publishers want a different length to track with the query. Now that I have a literary agency representing me, I hold hope this enterprise will improve…I hope.

 We all know the old saying; you can’t judge a book by its cover. This is true. However, how much importance do you place on your book cover design?

The cover design is primo with me. It’s the book’s first impression… it’s face. Except for Red, White, and Boom, I came up with the concept for my book covers. I find the photo/illustration and send it to the publisher along with my ideas for layout. The designers start tweaking, and from that point, I strive to drive them crazy with color preferences.

How would you define your style of writing?

Simply complex. Oh, you’d better toss in a heavy dash of eclectic.

Trains, planes, automobiles, or boats?

Automobiles. I like to be in control. 😊

What do you think of people who talk in movie theaters?

That they talk too much. 😊

What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?

My daughter, Lindsay.

What’s the best gift you’ve ever given?

Unconditional love.

What was the most valuable class you ever took in school? Why?

My most valuable class was 4 years of journalism. I learned how to find the real story hiding, ask tough/insightful questions, and write snappy headlines and catchy ads. It poured the foundation for my writing.

Have you ever walked out of a movie? If so, what was it?

Mommie Dearest. Just thinking about it sets me off. 😊

What’s your biggest pet peeve?

That I can’t decide what my biggest peeve is.

 What simple pleasure makes you smile?

A beige bliss iced espresso with almond milk. Large, please. Hold the whipped cream.







Caleb Pirtle III lives in the present but prefers the past. He has written more than 85 books, mostly travel and historical nonfiction, but has focused on fiction for the past decade. He has produced the Ambrose Lincoln thrillers, set against a backdrop of World War II, the Boomtown Saga, three novels concentrating on the discovery of oil in East Texas during the Great Depression, and The Man on the Run series featuring rogue CIA agent Roland Sand. Pirtle lives in Fort Worth with his wife Linda and standard poodle, Piper.

Time to chat with Caleb!

What is your latest book?

My latest book, Eulogy in Black and White, will be released May 1, 2022. It is the story about a stranger come to town, a stranger who wanders into Magnolia Bluff in the Texas Hill Country and finds a job cleaning the press and sweeping out the town’s newspaper office. Graham Huston has no car. He walks to work. He spends a lot of time in the cemetery. And he discovers that almost every soul in Magnolia Bluff is a lost soul who has a secret. The town lives in fear of May 23. Someone always dies on May 23. A violent death. Murder. But which secret triggers a serial killer to act on the same day of each year? Everyone is afraid. Everyone is a suspect. And Huston just may be cursed with the most explosive secret of all.

Is your recent book part of a series?

Eulogy in Black and White is book two in a series: The Magnolia Bluff Crime Chronicles. A group of ten authors have joined together to write the series, which debuts in April of 2022. We have established a fictional town. All of the books will be centered around the life and times of Magnolia Bluff. And we will all be using the same characters who populate the small town. A new book will be released each month from April through December, written by CW Hawes, Cindy Davis, James R. Callan, Richard Schwindt, the writing team of Roxanne Burkey and Charles Breakfield, Kelly Marshall, Linda Pirtle, Jinx Schwartz, and me. There’s trouble brewing every month in a town where the size of the population is decreasing while the size of the cemetery is always increasing.

You’ve written a lot of books. Do you have a favorite?

I’ve been a writer all of my life. As soon as I realized I was too ignorant to dig ditches, I became a writer, working on newspapers large and small, as travel editor of Southern Living Magazine, and as editorial direct for a Dallas custom publisher. That means I’ve churned out a lot of words and published more than 85 books. During my early career, I wrote primarily travel and historical books, all nonfiction. For the past decade, I’ve turned my focus to fiction, including the Ambrose Lincoln historical thrillers set against the backdrop of World War II and the Boomtown Saga, a series of historical mysteries built around the discovery of oil in East Texas during the Great Depression. My favorite books are probably the Boomtown books, Back Side of a Blue Moon, Bad Side of a Wicked Moon, and Lost Side of an Orphan’s Moon.

I grew up on the cusp of the East Texas oil boom. My father worked in the oil patch and I heard stories day after day about those early day wildcatters who dared to drill in land where the big oil companies had hit 17 dry holes. Dad Joiner hit a gusher just outside of my hometown, Kilgore, and broke the economic back of the Great Depression. Dad raised money to drill by reading obituaries and driving to Dallas to meet with rich widows. He said, “Every woman has a certain place on her neck, and if I kiss it just right, she starts writing checks.” I could not let those stories go to waste. Thus, from out of the past, was born my Boomtown Saga.

Do your books begin with ideas for characters or plots? Something else?

My novels are always character driven. I have no idea what the plot is when I begin. I sit down, write the first sentence that pops in my head, and see where it takes me. Like real life, what happens is never as important as the people who make it happen. I don’t know who all of my characters are when I start on a new novel. I just let them come into the story when they’re ready, and then I don’t move forward until I let them tell me their backstory. I just follow along and write down what they do and what they say. They know the story better than I do. It’s really happening to them. I’m just standing on the sidelines watching. And on more than a few occasions, I’ve had a minor character walk on for a scene, then refuse to leave. Those are the characters I like best. What do they know that I don’t know? And when will I find out? On a 300-page mystery, I’m usually 280 pages into the novel before I know who committed the murder, and it’s so clear, I wonder why I didn’t realize it 200 pages earlier. I feel as though the writer is the camera.

We must let the reader see the scene as clearly as we do. So I probably add more description than some writers do. But the critical part of a character is not how he or she looks, but what the point of view character is thinking as the story races along. I think the primary difference between a bad story and a good story is the way we handle internal dialogue. That’s what makes books better than movies. On the motion picture screen, we see the characters, but never know what they are thinking.

Some writers edit excessively as they write; others wait until a novel is finished to do the bulk of the editing. How about you?

I edit while I write. My process is really quite simple. I write my 1,500 words, then come back the next day and edit and re-write those 1,500 words until I have the scene or scenes exactly the way I want them, and then I’m back into the heart and soul of the story and can see the next 1,500 words waiting to be written. Sometimes, I leave the last sentence I write for the day as an incomplete sentence. By finishing it the next day, I am again thrown back into the story.

Once in a while, after finishing a book, I care so much about the characters that I write a sequel for them in my head. Do you ever know what happens to your characters after the book ends?

I don’t know what happens to my characters when the book ends. But I worry about them. I want to know where they are, what they’re doing, what kinds of danger are the facing, and will their next mile be their last mile. That’s why I write series. My characters may not like me, but I have really grown attached to them and just don’t want to let them go. What if their next adventure is better than their last adventure, and I miss it? I’m convinced I should be there. So I sit down and write the next book in the series.

How important is the choosing of character names to you? Have you ever decided on a name and then changed it because it wasn’t right for the character?

I think a character’s name is really important. For example, I believe the main character’s name should be different enough to be remembered. That’s why I chose Ambrose Lincoln for my lead character in the World War II thrillers. And Eudora Durant is the heroine in the Boomtown Saga. You don’t see a lot of men and women known as Ambrose or Eudora running around these days. I don’t change a character’s name, but sometimes the character does.

In Night Side of Dark, the beautiful blonde Partisan fighter in Poland had been named Lisa. But when she stepped into her first scene, she introduced herself as Devra. And Devra she became. I don’t know where the name came from, but I checked a list of Polish first names and, sure enough, I found Devra. When I wrote Last Deadly Lie about the trials, tribulations, and battles connected to a church fight in the Deep South, I had one character who bore the brunt of ridicule, humiliation, and animosity in his determination to get rid of the preacher. He finally loses the fight and is left in shame and disgrace. It was my wife who pointed out to me that I had given him the last name of “Lynch.” She thought I did it on purpose. I didn’t. The subconscious is a powerful tool to have.

How much research was involved in writing your book? How did you go about it?

I have written a lot of nonfiction that required mountains of research. However, I find that I do just as much research for a novel. The story may be fiction. But I think it is more believable when you connect incidents within the novel to actual events, especially when writing historical fiction as I do. I learned early on when Ambrose was carrying a Glock into Germany in 1939. My editor called and said, “Sorry, but the Glock wasn’t invented until the 1950s.” I learned a hard but timely lesson. From then on, I have tried to tie everything in the story to a thread of reality, whether it’s weapons, cars, music, or clothing. Never have a train traveling to a town that has no railroad tracks. And what kind of press did newspaper publishers use in 1931? I fear some reader will ferret out my mistake, and my credibility is shot. In Night Side of Dark, a train roars into Pulawy, Poland, to pick up a load of Jewish families and carry them to a work camp, a death camp. I researched until I found the name of the company who owned the actual train that went to Pulawy. Most will probably think the name is fiction. But I know it’s true, and that makes me feel better.

Do you have any secrets for effective time management?

I think my years of working for a big city newspaper has left me terribly regimented in my writing schedule. I worked for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, which had the largest circulation of any newspaper in Texas. I worked the police beat. I needed to be in the office at 9 o’clock in the morning. I went to work at four o’clock. Why? In case a big crime story happened overnight, I needed to be at the police station to interview the police officers and detectives who handled the case before they went home at five. I had four deadlines a day. I could not afford to miss any of them. I realized that at a certain time every day, I had a job to do. I still feel that way. I get up every day at five o’clock and load our Website with the indie books we are promoting that day. At 8:30, I run all of our Website stories for the past two days, along with some of our own books, through social media. At 10 o’clock, I clear out emails and answer the messages I have received. At 11 o’clock, I spend an hour researching information for the book I’m writing. At noon, I eat. At one o’clock, I read on a book I intend to review. At 2 o’clock, I sit down to write for the next three hours. No phones. No distractions. One break.

I walk my dog for two miles at three. I re-write and write until I am another 1,500 words into the story. I hear a lot of writers say, “I’ll write when I have time.” You never have time. You make time. You carve out an hour or more at the same hour every day, and tell yourself, “Now, I will write.” Don’t look for any distractions. You will certainly find them. For those who work every day? I tell them to spend an hour and write two or three pages every night. I can guarantee that the story they write will be much more entertaining than anything they see on television.

What is the worst writing advice you’ve ever received? The best? Any advice you’d like to offer to readers?

The worst advice I’ve ever received? I hear it over and over at writers conferences. Speakers stand for hours and list the rules for writing. Rules for writing an opening sentence. Rules for writing dialogue. Rules for writing point of view. Rules for writing first person. Rules for writing romance or a mystery. Rules for how long or short a chapter should be.

The best advice I’ve received came from Neil Gaiman who believes there are no rules. He said: “The main rule of writing is that if you do it with enough assurance and confidence, you’re allowed to do whatever you like. So write your story as it needs to be written. Write it ­honestly, and tell it as best you can. I’m not sure that there are any other rules. Not ones that matter.”

Where do you live now? If you had to move to another city/state/country, where might that be?

I presently live in North Fort Worth, Texas. If I moved, it would be to some small town in New Mexico. There is something magical and mystical about New Mexico. You feel it as soon as you drive across the state line. I think it has something to do with the spiritual past of the Native Americans who found a home in the desert and a path to an otherworldly realm somewhere beyond the high country.

What’s your favorite film of all times? Favorite book?

My favorite film of all time, the one I have watched so often I can quote dialogue along with the characters, is  To Have and Have Not. Why does it fascinate me? Well, first, there’s never been a heroine quite as sultry as a nineteen-year-old Lauren Bacall in her first movie. Bogart is Bogart, and that’s enough. But what really fascinates me is that the film is based on a short story by Ernest Hemingway, and the screenplay was written by William Faulkner, two brilliant writers who thoroughly disliked each other.

Care to brag about your family?

My wife, Linda, was a long-time English teacher who moved up through the ranks to become a high school principal. She never worried about the six-foot, five-inch, two hundred and seventy-five pound thugs. She said, “Deep within their chest beats the hearts of seventeen-year-olds, and if you can outsmart a seventeen-year-old, you don’t need to be in education.” When she retired, she could never understood why I spent a great deal of time in front of the word machine spitting out novels. So I dared her to write a book. She did, a nice little cozy mystery called The Mah Jongg Murders. She sold a bunch. She had a lot of friends asking when the next one would be finished. It became an addiction Linda could not escape. She has now published four cozy mysteries and has two more in the works. There is only one difference between us. I write every day. She writes on Wednesday.



Amazon Author Page





MJ LaBeff is an American author best described as the girl-next-door with a dark side. MJ grew up in northeastern Ohio but traded snow for sunshine and moved to southern Arizona where she lives with her husband and two dogs. She’s drawn to writing suspense novels, featuring complicated characters and twisted plot lines that will keep readers turning page after page. When she’s not writing or plotting her next novel, MJ enjoys reading, running, lifting weights, and volunteering for the American Cancer Society.

What is your latest book?

My latest book is Last Spring’s Stranger which was released on January 12, 2021. It’s part of the Last Cold Case series. In this fourth book, I’ve upped the stakes for Homicide Detective, Rachel Hood.

Secrets can have deadly and life altering consequences. The legend of Verch’s Hollow has intrigued the residents of Snug Harbor, Ohio for generations. Myths about the abandoned property abound. When a teenage girl is murdered in the Hollow, her gruesome death threatens to expose a secret from Homicide Detective Rachel Hood’s past. Forced to face the truth of her deception, she reopens a cold case that could jeopardize her career. A victim of adolescent cyber-bullying, messages fill her personal inbox with threatening undertones from years ago. Do keep evidence and share it with an authority.

Enter FBI Agent Nick Draven an occult crimes specialist and Hood’s fiancé. As they delve deeper into the sender’s motive, Rachel has to confront the harsh reality she left behind over twelve years ago: a murdered friend, Tina; a glimpse of the killer at the scene of the crime, who she can’t identify despite her psychic empathy; and her own involvement with the evening’s sinister events.

What are the special challenges in writing a series?

My goal with each book in the series is not to have any spoilers. I want a reader to be able to read book 2 or 4 and have just enough information from a previous book that will encourage them to go back and read the others. That can pose challenges but I’ve found clever ways around it. The other challenge is keeping all of the main characters back stories straight and other details. I’m a big fan of character enneagrams so I rely on these as my guide along with notes regarding a character’s physical looks, ticks, catch phrases and so on. If you’re writing a series I strongly encourage taking the time to keep a journal of the characters.

How many unwritten books are in your head?

At the moment two. I have an idea for a single title thriller that I’m really excited about and looking forward to writing in the future but after I finish Murdered Last Summer book 5 of the Last Cold Case series; I’ll probably write Disappeared Last Fall book 6.

How do you decide which ones come to life now and which ones stay on the back burner?

Great question and until July 2021 I would have replied: as long as MuseItUp Publishing want more books in the Last Cold Case series, I’m committed to writing those first and then fitting in a side project. Unfortunately, MuseItUp closed its doors and so now…dun…dun…dun…I’m on my own! When I received the news via email it was a heartbreaking moment. The publisher sent such a sincere and heartfelt email, making it evident how sad she was to be closing the company. I was blessed that she worked very closely with me so that my books could easily be published again once she “took them down.” Although I was devastated losing my publisher, the experience with them until the very end was more than I could have anticipated. They provided me with formatted manuscripts so that I could release the books on my own in digital and print, and I was able to retain the original cover art. I realize this might not always be the case.

Upon the advice of a friend, I used Draft2Digital to launch the eBooks to all ebook sellers except for Amazon. She advised that it’s best to use Kindle Direct Publishing. I was familiar with KDP as my first book Mind Games was self-published via it. Uploading the manuscripts and cover art on either platform was quite easy!

The challenge is that I don’t know how to format a manuscript and I’m not a graphic designer; I’ll leave that heavy lifting to the experts! So, as long as I have formatted manuscripts and book covers I can self-publish. Again, I was lucky that my former publisher provided all of this to me. Formatting a manuscript is tricky business, I’d encourage any author to work with a professional so that the final product is beautiful in digital and/or print. Same goes for choosing a cover artist to design your book cover.

My hat is off, and I courtesy to the authors out there who can do it all. You are creative beings and true entrepreneurs. You are my heroes!

The biggest piece of advice I can give to any author in this type of situation is to ask your publisher to sign a reversion of rights agreement. If it weren’t from some really close author friends (who helped me during this difficult time) I might have not started with this first step. I had multiple books with MuseItUp. I had signed 5 contracts with them- 4 for the eBooks in the series (3 of the 4 contracts included print books), and there was a separate contract for the series. I had to ask for my rights back for the 4 books plus the series. Why is this important? There’s always a chance of running into a stumbling block when an author re-releases books that were once with a publisher. I was cautioned that Amazon for example might ask me for reversion of rights letters.

I had been nearly halfway through writing book 5 of the series when I received the news but I continued writing. I can’t say what the future holds for Homicide Detective, Rachel Hood and FBI Agent, Nick Draven. Perhaps I’ll start writing Disappeared Last Fall book 6 or that single title thriller tentatively titled, Dead End.


What is the worst writing advice you’ve ever received?

Many years ago I attended an in person workshop given by a widely acclaimed author who told us writers in the room- never use the verb “was” in a sentence. At this point in my writing career, I had completed writing a third book and was working on a fourth. I remember going home and painstakingly working on eliminating “was” from my novel, Haunting Lyric. At my wits end, I called another author friend and she chastised me for believing such nonsense.

C’mon! I understand the advice given to choose a solid verb and avoid using “to be” and other lazy verbs and do your best to avoid adverbs but as a writer you also need to be mindful of how people speak and think. Characters are human beings of our creation so bring them to life appropriately. How’d ya like that? I used “to be” and “was” in my response, HaHa!

BTW, Haunting Lyric has suffered through so many edits and revisions from me that I had an editor say, “I feel like the author has chosen her words too carefully.” No kidding! It remains unpublished.

The best?

New York Times Bestselling author Vicki Lewis Thompson offered me the best advice. She looked me dead in the eyes and said, “Just write.”

Any advice you’d like to offer to writers?

I give writers the same advice she gave me. Just write. There are plenty of rules to learn about but the best thing you can do for yourself is just write. Get the story out and then make it shine during the editing and proofreading process. I also encourage writers to join a professional organization at the national and local level even if you don’t write in that genre. There are so many opportunities to learn and grow and of course meet other writers and authors.

I’m a member of Sisters in Crime and when I first started writing I was a national and local chapter member of Romance Writers of America (RWA) for 8 years. I learned so much from RWA and had the opportunity to pitch to agents and editors. If you’re familiar with my books, you know I write dark thrillers but the advice, workshops, and fellow writers and authors I met through RWA shaped my career and inspired my confidence.

One more piece of advice, find a good critique partner or critique group to read your work. You’ll want them to be familiar with the genre you’re writing and provide gentle guidance and advice.

What are some of the crazy things people have said to you upon learning you are an author? How have you responded?

I guess I’ll start by saying that when someone asks, “What do you do?” My reaction isn’t to say, “I’m a writer.” I work in the financial services industry so I usually reply with the name of my employer. When someone does know I write and mentions it, I’m always a bit bashful. It’s not that I don’t want to talk about my books or writing but sometimes people get a little starry eyed. They don’t realize I’m not “big time stuff.” Of course, my close friends know what a time consuming commitment writing books is for me and that I’ve enjoyed small rewards along the way, but everyone does not know my name. If ya know what I mean!

Recently, I was talking with a neighbor and he was introducing me to some other neighbors and said, “It’s really exciting to have an author in the neighborhood.” I could feel the blush rising on my cheeks. What could I say or do? I just smiled and said, “Thank you.”

The only other funny thing that happened to me was after the Tucson Festival of Books a few years ago. I was shopping at Macy’s with a friend and a woman stopped me and said, “Oh my gosh, you’re that author I met at the festival.” I’m certain if the event hadn’t just been the previous weekend she would’ve walked right past me. We briefly chatted, and I was happy to hear she was already enjoying one of my books. It was a surreal moment to have been remembered.

Care to brag about your family?

Two men who inspire me daily are my husband and my dad.

My husband is smart and a risk taker. He sets out to do something and does it. Failure is never an option with him. He’s the kind of person who makes things happen. I admire his tenacity and confidence, kindness and generosity.

My dad is a first generation American whose parents were immigrants from Croatia. Deda, my dad’s father worked in a coal mine and brick yard, and my dad discovered how physically demanding those jobs were early in his life. He learned English while going to school and after graduating from high school went to college. He earned an Associate’s Degree in Business. Although, he had planned to acquire a four year Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting being married, working fulltime and going to college was hard and another opportunity outside of the bookkeeping job he had presented itself. My dad was very successful as a car salesman and eventually went on to start his own Ford dealership. I marvel at his entrepreneurial spirit and grit to walk away from a great job.

What I’ve learned from both of them is that you have to believe in yourself because if you don’t, no one will.

If you had a million dollars to give to charity, how would you allocate the funds?

I would donate one million dollars to the American Cancer Society and allocate funds for research grants to advance medicine and for travel expenses to help people living in remote areas that are in need of transportation and housing while undergoing treatment in a nearby city.

If you could have one skill that you don’t currently have what would it be?

I like old cars. If I could have another skill I’d like to be a mechanic and own a ’78 Vette and other classic cars. I think it’d be fun to work on a classic.




Amazon Author Page


Instagram: @mjlabeff

THE WAITING HOUSE: A Novel in Stories



Hello, Friends,

My eleventh book, The Waiting House:  A Novel in Stories, is here. The title is quite appropriate, as I’ve waited a long time to get it out.

Cover art and design by Shykia Bell

Every time I publish a new book, I like to write a blog explaining how it came to be. As a multi-genre author (with leanings toward literary and contemporary fiction), I put a lot of thought (agonizing contemplation) over what to write next.

I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from my themed short-story collection, Hotel Obscure, where the same characters appear in different stories; many readers telling me that the book read to them like a novel. While it’s not a novel, it was my intention to give it that feel. So, when I decided to do a follow-up book, I thought I’d torture myself by raising the bar and this time, write a novel-in-stories / A Novel in Stories.”

In Writer’s Digest (2008), Scott Francis, a former editor and writer at WD Books, explains what a novel-in-stories is:

“A novel-in-stories is a book-length collection of short stories that are interconnected. (One of the very first examples of this genre is The Canterbury Tales; a more recent example is The Girl’s Guide to Hunting and Fishing, by Melissa Bank.) A novel-in-stories overcomes two key challenges for writers: the challenge of writing a novel-length work, and the challenge of publishing a book-length work of unrelated short stories. (Few publishers are willing to publish a short-story collection from an unknown writer.) So, the novel-in-stories helps you sell a story collection like you would a novel—as long as the interconnected nature of the stories is strong and acts as a compelling hook. Another advantage to novels-in-stories is that they afford you the opportunity to publish pieces of your novel in a variety of literary magazines, which might attract the attention of an editor or agent. (Editors and agents often troll literary publications looking for new talent to publish or represent.)”

When I began writing this, I asked myself at regular intervals if I was crazy. Would I be able to do this? It was tough to come up with unique stories and tie them to an overall story arc. I’ll admit it … I thought about quitting, but not being a quitter, I kept pushing myself, and then … finally … it all began to come together.

I’d written two novels after Hotel Obscure, so I had a lot of time to think about where to set this next collection. As it turns out, I really needed the time because I wanted a setting that I could see and that I felt passionate about. As I began to write, while I didn’t plan on it, The Waiting House took on a different tone than Hotel Obscure, with a decidedly Twilight Zone theme to it … something I never planned on doing, even though one story in HO fits that bill.

Graphic by Kathleen Harryman

Here’s the blurb:

Once an opulent hotel for lovers of the Hollywood lifestyle, today the imposing building survives, somewhere, as an apartment house for those who wait. Not all know what they’re waiting for, but the residents live in flawed concert with those of undetermined existence, among relics of the past, as they wait for answers, for lost loved ones, and for purpose.

While the stories feature different characters, many of whom are recurring, each tale couples with its own unique reality … and is narrated by Conrad, the “grand master.” There is an overall story arc: part literary fiction, part Twilight Zone … both with a healthy dose of dark humor.

If you step inside, you’ll meet Ava Elisabeth, now in her 80s. After 40 years in Paris, she has returned. But why? Darah, the owner, is tormented by the sudden reappearance of her estranged mother, Millicent.

Kenny finds a way to overcome the despair of his missing wife. Fiona lives in the shadow of her once-famous, movie-star mother. Former Santa, Alejandro, punishes himself with solitude and sadness. A disturbed woman, Carolyn, waits for her TV prince to come. And Lee is tortured by random people who slide down walls near his fourth-floor apartment. Under the same roof, each soul has a different story … but all live in The Waiting House.

I’ll leave you with that as I go off to imagine a possible third collection … one that will also take much thought to develop. In the meantime, I’ll be starting a new novel.

As are all of my books, The Waiting House: A Novel in Stories is available in paperback, Kindle, and is free to read on Kindle Unlimited.

Best wishes,



The Kindle and paperback editions are available here:  (universal link)